Natalie Bennett and the ‘peaceful revolution’ (Interview)

Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales and one of British Politics’ insurgent figures, is pretty chilled out.No interview has been formally scheduled as I saunter up to the Cambridge Union’s doors half an hour prior to her scheduled speech on a fairly bland Wednesday afternoon, but after a few minutes of message relaying between myself, the Union’s Press Office, and Bennett, it transpires she’s happy to chat, timetabled or nay. One can’t help but feel her counterparts in other parties might not do things in the same way.

She successfully combines an alert, quick-thinking disposition with actually being an incredibly nice person to chat to, and sitting across the Dining Room table with her feels like the sort of thing you ought to do more often, but with a cup of coffee and a biscuit. That being said, I’ve barely finished the first question on what she believes to be the UK’s most pressing issues before she responds quickly and clearly. Continue reading

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‘Vote for the Beard’: an afternoon with Julian Huppert MP (Interview)

What is immediately noteworthy about the MP for Cambridge, Julian Huppert, is the extent to which he is an incredibly nice man. Instead of snatching an interview in a loud room after a speech, or rapidly taking notes after five minutes on the phone, I was invited to Westminster to spend the day with him. Having trundled behind him, gawping, as he got on with his day in both the multi-million-pound office-building-cum-five-star-hotel that is Portcullis House and the undeniably awesome complex that is the Palace of Westminster, we sat down to a cup of coffee to get serious.

Or at least, we would have done if I hadn’t been so distracted by the view of the river Thames out of the vast, Gothic-revival, floor-to-ceiling bay window in which we were sitting, not to mention some of the nicest fresh coffee I’ve ever tasted. Continue reading

‘Let them eat cake’: Welfare Officers and the Week Five Blues (Interview)

We have Week Five, they have Fifth Week. They have tutorials, we have supervisions. It can sometimes feel like the linguistic discrepancies between our own University and ‘the Other Place’ are just strange creations to hide us from the fact that we’re pretty much exactly the same. A brief ask around of other universities seems to reveal that they don’t have a concept quite like it. A friend from Manchester told me about ‘exam week’, whilst a friend from Cardiff told me about a particularly horrible week-long ‘project’ once a term, yet neither have the same notion of one universal, horrible week, in which everything seems to go wrong, everyone looks a bit miserable, and Students’ Unions across the city throw cake and chocolate around well-meaningly.

I thought it wise to ask some of Cambridge and Oxford’s finest Welfare Officers exactly what they made of the ‘Week Five’ phenomenon. James McMullan recently wrote a powerful and moving article on men’s mental health in this paper, arguing that we “normalise serious mental health issues, passing them off as ‘an essay crisis’, ‘Week Five blues’ or just a necessary consequence of being at this institution”. Continue reading

Why I can’t be ‘out and proud’ – life as a graduate sex worker (Interview)

Student fees are still at record levels, and wages are undergoing their longest continuous fall for decades. It is unsurprising, then, that many of us are looking for alternative ways to fund our lifestyles, however lavish or Sainsbury’s-basic they might be. An occasional shift working the ADC bar may be the way some of us go about it,whilst others prefer to accumulate year-long reserves from lucrative summer internships and jobs.

James, a recent graduate of Oxford University, took a rather different approach. He spoke to The Cambridge Student about his experiences in the ‘business’ of sex work. “I’m very promiscuous and have often agreed to sex with guys objectively less hot than me. I have occasionally been offered money for it, so I thought why the hell not – go for it.”  Continue reading

Isolation, education, and being an icon: an Indian Summer (Interview)

Whilst many Cambridge students were content to wile away the seemingly endless weeks of the Summer with procrastination, not-working, and try-hard wanna-be ‘lads’ holidays to well-worn corners of the Mediterranean, for Hugh Hathaway, that didn’t quite cut it. Instead, he got himself on a plane to India to try his hand at teaching English a world away from the grey skies of mid-October Cambridge. Now that he’s back, he wants to bring a little slice of India to Cambridge, and vice versa, and take one of Cambridge’s more obscure charity movements on to the next level.

“I went to Ladakh, which is within the northernmost state in India, Jammu & Kashmir. I was working in a valley called the Zanskar Valley, which is cut off from the world for about nine months of a year,” which meant that Hugh’s trip, organised through Cambridge University English Learning for Tibetans (ironically not in Tibet), came at the busiest time of the year. Continue reading

“We need you”: Harriet Harman and the future of the Labour Party (Interview)

Harriet Harman, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, has a formidable reputation. Serving as the MP for Camberwell and Peckham since 1982, she is the continuously-serving female MP in the House of Commons, with more than 30 years of parliamentary experience under her belt. If that’s not enough, her pre-parliamentary career reads just as impressively.

When found in contempt of court whilst working as a legal officer for the National Council for Civil Liberties, she took the case to the European Court of Human Rights, and won.  Continue reading